SUNDERLAND are 90 minutes away from reaching Wembley for the second season in a row but this time, the implications are far more important as the second leg of their League One play-off semi final against Sheffield Wednesday awaits.

The Black Cats won the Papa John's Trophy under the arch last year but this year's prize will mean so much more. Having given themselves a slender one goal advantage from the first leg, they go to Hillsborough having not lost on the road under Alex Neil and in confident mood they can reach another final.

From the Owls point of view, they have to go for it. Anything less than a win will see them crashing out of the play-offs. Neil is well prepared for a potential kitchen sink to be thrown at them tonight but isn't getting caught up with treating the task any differently.

“Teams can only attack as much as you allow them to attack" said the Sunderland head coach.

"Our performance is naturally going to have a bearing on how they play and likewise going the other way.

“What I do expect from them is that it is do or die for them at the moment. Although we have got a slender advantage, for them at home they know what they have got to do. Equally, we know what we have got to do. It should be an interesting game.

“Our away set up and home set up, I wouldn’t say it’s too different. We’ve obviously got a process in terms of how we defend and we’ve got a structure about how we want to attack, what numbers we commit forward, where they come forward from, but equally we have a threatening opposition so it’s about how we stifle and stop that.

“I think the boys have taken it on board and carried it out really well which means, in the main defensively, we’ve been really sound."

After 45,000 fans watched Sunderland win 1-0 on Friday night, the roles will be reversed with over 30,000 supporters expected to be in attendance at Hillsborough.

The Northern Echo: Ross Stewart scores in their 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the first leg.Ross Stewart scores in their 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the first leg.

“We spoke about the atmosphere at home and sometimes having a bit of experience in your team helps with dealing with that" Neil continued.

“It’s going to be doubly important away from home because we’re going to go there with as much as we can take and fans will probably come down, even though they don’t have a ticket. The majority of the stadium is going to be against us. But as a player, strangely, I think you look forward to that."

The head coach joked about whether Sunderland would be fearful of the atmosphere in Yorkshire. “People say about intimidation. What are you intimidated by? People shouting boo?" he said.

“I don’t think there is going to be any intimidation. They are going to create a really good atmosphere for their players, they are going to hope that they can bring an extra step into the players in terms of can they go a yard quicker? Can they go harder in the next tackle?

“I do think that is relevant but I don’t think that we are going to be fearful of anything. I don’t think there is going to anything that’s going to surprise us when we get there. The stadium is going to be in there favour. But sometimes, that’s not a bad thing for us."

Sunderland appear to be heading to Yorkshire with a clear mindset of what's required and convinced they have what it takes to reach the final. But the unpredictability of football could play it's part and it's down to the Black Cats to dictate what they can.

“I’m confident in all of the lads. We just need to go and play as well as we can" Neil added.

“There will be certain dynamics of the game that will be within our control. There will be components of the game that will be hard to control and we try and control them as much as we can. You’re just hoping that them ones don’t fallen against you because sometimes there are some things that happen. Like a moment of quality or somebody making an error that is inexcusable but it happens.

“I’m just hopeful that the ones that we can control, we control as well as we can."